Iraqi Shabbat stew with spiced rice and chicken

  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt, plus more as needed
  • 350g (2 cups) long-grain rice
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 3 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 punnet (300 g) cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 475ml (2 cups) chicken or vegetable stock

Fill a large saucepan with water and 2 tablespoons salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, add the rice, and cook uncovered until rice is parboiled, about 5 minutes, drain and immediately rinse with cold water, then set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons oil, tomato paste, cardamom, paprika, pepper, cumin, and turmeric, add the rice and mix until the rice is well coated.

Add the onions, tomatoes, and garlic to the seasoned rice and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 110℃ (225℉).

Spoon as much of the rice and tomato mixture into the cavity of the chicken as possible, then tie the legs together with kitchen twine.

In a large heavy-bottomed oven-safe pan with a tight fitting lid, heat 3 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, breast side down in the hot oil to sear, once golden flip the chicken onto its back. Spoon the remaining rice and vegetable mixture around the chicken, pour in the stock.

Cover the pot and transfer to the oven, and cook until the chicken is very tender and the rice is beginning to brown, 8-10 hours.